Before and After.


I’m sure we can all agree that the Facebook memories app is both a blessing and a curse. Looking back on pictures “before” and pictures now, while I am smiling in both, it’s different. I can see the change in my countenance.

Before, there was no shield up. There was no…no leash on my happy. Now, I can see the pain. I can see the time it has taken me to be able to smile again. I can see the ache in my heart- the sunken hole she left in my soul. I can see the hesitation behind my smile. I can also see how much wiser I have become to the fragility of life. It is a heavy burden to bear. It weighs on me every day. It creeps up when I least expect it to crush any positive interactions I might be having at that moment.

Without warning, I can’t breathe. Any little trigger- even the ones that have nothing to do with my loss- just sinks it’s long, boney fingers into my throat and chokes the air from my lungs. My heart feels like it will implode. My lungs won’t fill up with air. I’m writhing in panic inside my own skin, but I can not call out for help. I’m violently vibrating and drowning inside myself. In that moment, I feel no hope for survival.

I can see each one of those attacks behind my smile now. I am no longer an Innocent. My most painful experience has caused me to struggle toward normalcy with every breath. I am corrupt. I am 1 in 4.

-Ashley SF